Which country between Russia and Georgia breeds more nincompoops? Since August 7, when Georgia tried to force - albeit unsuccessfully - the renegade South Ossetia province back to central administration, the two countries have been trading verbal jabs.
The Kremlin and Tbilisi have been trying to out-duel each other on who shouts the vilest of insults. Russia's insults have been the vilest, always replete with condescension and spite. Russian leaders have called their Georgian counterparts "spoiled kids." Did you hear Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov dismissively declare Georgia a "virtual project of the United States?"
On Monday, Russia's President, Dmitry Medvedev, Putin's poodle, launched a verbal tirade against his Georgian counterpart, Mikheil Saakashvili and his administration, calling them "political morons."
"The world has seen that even today, there are political morons who are ready to kill innocent and defenseless people in order to satisfy their self-serving interests...." blurted Medvedev while visiting Vladikavkaz, a military installation near the Georgian border.
Not to be outdone, Sergei Lavrov, the foreign minister, also went for Saakashvili jugular calling his administration a "criminal regime", during a press conference called to warn NATO to back off rearming Georgia. He was to repeat the incendiary comments in an op-ed article in the Wall Street Journal.
In the article, Lavrov reiterated Russia's determination to "...continue to seek to deprive the present Georgian regime of the potential and resources to do more mischief."
Russia's ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, called Saakashvili a "war criminal" and likened him to former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and ex-Serbian despot, the late Slobodan Milosevic.
Politicians in Georgia have not been resting on their laurels, either. Saakashvili has called the Kremlin tenants "21st century barbarians." Their soldiers are drunkards, who are poorly dressed and equipped.
Now who's the loser in all this? I say Russia. Russia may have vanquished Georgia militarily, but its international standing is in tatters. While it will take a short time to rebuild Georgia's destroyed civilian and military infrastructure, Russia will have to wait for decades to rid itself of the "bully" tag that the world is now associating it with. When you're a superpower, you don't invade your neighbor merely for trying to embrace a political ideology you don't like.
Russia's argument that Georgia attacked its peacekeeping forces first is utter nonsense. South Ossetia is internationally recognized as a Georgian territory, but Russia has been issuing people living there with Russian passports and supplying its leaders with military gear. Who would not conclude this is a prelude to annexation of South Ossetia by Russia? Or who can argue that Russia's actions in South Ossetia are not aimed at derailing Georgia's transformation to a Western democracy?
In the court of public opinion Georgia stands tall, while Russia's reputation, as a responsible superpower, is now badly bruised.
Nothing justifies the overwhelming violence that Russia has inflicted and continues to inflict on little Georgia. It's unjustified because Georgia has never sought to destabilize Russia. It has only sought to embrace political and economic reforms that don't serve Russia egotistic interests. No wonder the world has chosen to empathize with Georgia and not Russia. The European Union and NATO have rallied around Georgia. It was interesting to see Russia coerce Belarus, considered a traditional ally, to support its misguided military adventurism in Georgia.
The Kremlin, despite its megalomaniac posture throughout this conflict, has ended up looking incompetent in explaining its actions.
Georgians all along knew they were not a match to Russia's gargantuan military might, but have excellently made their case to the international community, something that Russians couldn't think of, which has made me to conclude that the morons are in Moscow, not Tbilisi.
Early in the conflict, Saakashvili was all over the western media declaring that "Russia's war is the West's challenge."
Russians have only lately come to realize that media matters, through placement of articles on influential western media by former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev ( "Russia never wanted a war" in the New York Times) and Sergei Lavrov, the foreign minister ("America must choose between Russia and Georgia" in the Wall Street Journal.) This is an exercise in futility because the world knows who the aggressor is. This aggressor is Russia not Georgia.
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